go big or go home.

 

I had an accident after de-planeing from Paris in the Dublin airport. I have no idea why I fell but I did. I was walking to the bus on flat ground in flat shoes, but somehow I managed to get tripped up and I fell. I twisted my ankle so bad, but no one knew I was hurt because I was laughing so hard. I mean it was so darn funny…. I literally just was on the ground. I cannot even type without laughing. However, I actually then began to cry a little because I had hurt the ankle I broke three years ago and the same pop noise occurred. If you can imagine this– the bone on the side of the ankle completely touched the ground… I knew something was wrong.Unfortunately I had to sit through a three hour bus ride and I could barely walk to a cab to get home. I had a major breakdown on the phone with my mom because getting my boot off hurt so much and one look at my ankle gave me disgust. I was so exhausted from my trip and just wanted to shower and sleep, but I literally couldn’t walk so I found myself icing it prior to being able to do anything.

 

After waking up in the morning I knew I had to go to health services. That place knows my name by now. I seriously much be their most frequent abroad student. First my chest infection now this– go big or go home is clearly how I do things.

 

They immediately told me to go to the hospital and I was admitted and put on a gurney which also was hilarious. I got x-rays and was told it wasn’t broken, but it was a really bad sprain and I had torn all the tendons (seriously–go big or go home).

Thankfully I had some awesome friends who accompanied me to the ER and sat there while I waited. I am forever grateful to have friends like that… who drop everything and enter into the doomsday of health services of any sort.

The ankle is stiff and sore and has made my wardrobe consist of all sneakers. I have been dancing up a storm lately while at the pubs, which certainly isn’t helping it, but I cannot resist a good song!! The nasty black and blue is beginning to grow, but I hope that the stiffness heals soon so I can get back to wearing normal shoes!

 

never a dull moment…..

20140207-224537.jpgicing it…. trying to prop it up.

20140207-224549.jpgall checked in and ready to go!

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My precious roommate who came with me and still had to do her homework for that day!

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I insisted on documenting every step of my hospital stay and I felt the hospital bracelet had to be in every photo for dramatic effect.

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The growing black and blue. It is still swollen and sore, but the swelling has gone down a ton. The black and blue is still getting bigger and creating a nice little line pattern along the tendons however and this is a photo from two days ago. gross.. I know.

 

This experience taught me a lot about independence. I checked myself into the hospital and dealt with the entire thing, asking proper question, and filling out forms all by myself. It was really hard because the hospital didn’t have WIFI so I had no way of contacting my parents… leaving them in the dark since the last text they received was “going to the ER… will let you know”. It all ended up being fine, just a hassle really.

I am grateful that I feel super immersed in the culture. I mean I have experienced the health care system first hand. The entire experience was pretty darn funny considering I constantly had to answer “I fell while walking” every time someone said “How did you do it?”.

 

keeping things interesting… as per usual 😉

 

xoxoxo

 

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Paris

We arrived in Paris and were all pretty exhausted at that point. We arrived at our hostel and went to sleep. We had one full day in Paris and packed in literally everything there was to do (which was a lot). My roommate, Molly’s best friend from childhood is abroad in Paris so we got SO lucky in that she met up with us and took us around everywhere. That helped a ton–she navigated for us.

My feet really hurt by this point in the trip and it only got worse all day. I do wonder if I would have enjoyed Paris more if my feet weren’t hurting so much, but I believe that the charm of a city speaks for itself and I did not get the spark I did when I was in London. Paris was certainly beautiful, but I did not love it. So many are shocked when I say this, but alas I found that the language barrier, slightly rude people, and massive crowds in the city created an atmosphere perfect for a few days of travel, but nothing more.

Things we did:

-Arc de Triomphe (we climbed this to see an awesome view of the city as opposed to actually climbing the Eiffel tower).

-The Eiffel tower

-felafel in the Jewish quater

-Chinese new year celebration on the streets

-Modern Art Museum (loved loved loved it!)

-Musée d’Orsay (Art museum)

-the Louvre (captured the typical tourist pic)

-Notre Dame Cathedral

-crepes from a street vendor

-macaroons from a small bakery

-The lock bridge

and now the photo dump!

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Things to keep in mind:

-there is free entrance to all on the first Sunday of every month to all the museums in Paris. This was awesome because it saved us a ton of money, but the lines can be long. We couldn’t even get into the Louvre because the line was so long, but the lines moved fast for all other museums.

-the subway is actually really easy to figure out, but there is an app on your phone that can tell you exactly which lines to get on in order to reach your destination (its a lifesaver)– certainly download it. Consider a ten ride pass to save money and always save your tickets because they do random checks and large fines come with those who throw away their ticket before officially exiting.

-felafel is perhaps the best food ever. trust me. go get some.

 

we headed to the airport on Monday and flew home. all in all a great trip!

xoxo

Brussels

We took a bus from Amsterdam to Brussels (Euorlines) which was a quick four hour trip to my favorite place on the trip. I think perhaps Brussels was my favorite because it was somewhere I could actually see myself living. It had the charm, quaint cobblestone, great dining options, and of course Belgium waffles (my fav!). Dutch men aren’t half bad either!

There isn’t actually that much to do in Brussels. Rick Steve’s book “Europe through the Back Door” (highly suggest) says stopping through Brussels on the way to Paris is a great idea simply for the food. So we did that.

We ran into some trouble on the way to our hostel. We traipsed through the ghetto and as we continued to walk we got deeper and deeper into a very bad part of town. Upon arriving at the hostel there was sign and no door so we hopped on the bus and got out of there as quickly as possible. It was one of those cliche moments while traveling, but I was impressed by how calm I kept myself even when I really knew we were in some level of danger. We ended up renting two hotel rooms and actually enjoyed a really clean room with a clean shower for the night. It ended up working out and I learned the importance of the emergency credit card my Dad gave me for emergencies (shout out to him for always being prepared).

Since we only had one day in Brussels we had to be efficient about our time. We went on the walking tour since we are big fans of them. They give you great history of where you are and give you a bit more awareness of your general surroundings. Plus the tour guides are usually cute and give you great recommendations for eateries and coffee cafes.

The highlight of Brussels is its main center which is a massive courtyard type area (all cobblestone) with its grande buildings that were the most beautiful I have ever seen. This area is called the Grand Place and it is surrounded by awesome places to eat, dessert and lunch waffle stands, shopping, and unique stores.

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The waffles were literally the most amazing thing I have ever had. We had a lunch waffle (ham and cheese inside of the waffle) and dessert waffles with nutella and whipped cream. My Gramps used to know my order every time we went out to breakfast–waffle no syrup. I couldn’t help but smile while I was in Belgium having Belgium Waffles. As a man who loved to travel it certainly was a full circle moment for me.

We were told to try the Belgium Fries but I wasn’t super impressed. The fries in America are much better (and probably more unhealthy as well).

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We ended our day getting some Belgium Chocolate for some testing and a walk through the outdoor mall. We quickly scurried to catch our next bus to Paris, but I was left daydreaming about the Grand Place and all Brussels had to offer.

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Things we did (and recommend):

-Enjoy the Grand Place

-the walking tour

-grab a drink at Delirium Cafe (a really cool bar that sells a raspberry beer that is only made in that part of Europe due to the specific fermentation)

-Celtica was a really cool bar with live music and a great atmosphere

-grab some waffles and chocolate!

 

xoxoxo

Amsterdam

Monday I returned from a five day trip to Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris. I feel so lucky I got to jet-set and see all these places. It is surreal to realize there is a whole world out there just waiting for you to explore. Though I certainly am still adjusting to being back and parts of the trip were incredibly exhausting it was well worth it to see all we did.

Amsterdam.

We arrived mid evening and was immediately greeted by the hoards of people in the city center. I assumed I wouldn’t like Amsterdam because it is known as a loose city with its main components being drugs and sex. Indeed, the rumors are true that you can purchase pot induced products at any coffee shop. If you know me well you know I despise the smell of weed (literally even the faintest scent makes me gag) so that aspect of the city certainly was not enjoyable. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the city itself. I really enjoyed my time there and easily would go back. Something distinct is that the city is very relaxed and welcoming so drugs aren’t shoved in our face and the red light district can easily be avoided if you so choose (though it is truly apart of the culture and the women are even relatively respected as business owners). Our hostel was in the red light district so there were tons of cafes, restaurants, shops, and street carts. It was the perfect location!

things we did:

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Anne Frank House. This is the home they hid in during the occupation. It has been preserved and easily was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. The museum was so amazing, humbling, and breathtaking. I highly recommend it. It is in the most beautiful neighborhood of adorable townhouses/apartments.

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The city was filled with old charm and modern conveniences. It was the perfect mix. We loved this little cafe with a love bench outside. The hot cocoa was amazing!

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The city has tons of canals that run throughout the city. Homes are on either side and it adds to the picturesque quality of the city. We took an awesome walking tour our second day there and it was really cool to hear about the history of Amsterdam.

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The entire city is lined with adorable homes build upward. Each had a distinct charm and style.

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We, of course, made our way to the famous letters and took lots of touristy photos.

In case you travel there, places we think were worth it:

-Anne Frank house

-Van Gogh Museum (I don’t like art but it was really cool because its most of his original pieces)

-the diamond museum (free entry)

-Amsterdam letters (seen in photo above)

-walking tour

-Red light district (it is part of their culture so it was actually really interesting to experience)

more to come!

xoxox

 

Weekend in Cork.

Two weekends ago we headed to the second biggest city in Ireland, Cork. Cork is another popular site for Holy Cross abroad students so we shacked up with some friends and hit all there was to do in the city. While the city pleasantly surprised me (I had been told it was in a bleak industrial style), it lacked a certain charm that Galway always seems to have. Indeed, it had a more industrial darker feel, but it was great to visit for the weekend!

Upon arriving we headed out to a bar and had a bit of a Holy Cross reunion as people were visiting from Dublin was well. The night was super fun…. full of dancing and a light buzz– the perfect combo!

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On Saturday we headed to one of National Geographic 99 things to do before you die, which is to kiss the Blarney Stone. I thought it was some stone you step up to and kiss, but oh no no no. You get on your back and man literally holds you as you slide back and twist your neck to kiss this stone. You feel as if the man let you go you would go falling over the five story deteriorated castle. I literally blacked out during the entire process…. I was flailing and freaking out (hence why the man is shushing me in the photo) and upon kissing the wrong stone and having to extend backwards again I literally let out at least five swears. I remember none of it, but it was certainly entertaining for the girls watching. The Blarney Castle is super amazing and had a sprawling green estate with dogs and a home that people actually live in. Additionally, there were gardens and fantasy like trees across the entire property. Despite the rain, the day was really fun!

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20140206-142057.jpgWe finished the day at the Cork Butter Museum which was the most hilarious thing I have ever experienced. It was a poor excuse for a museum, but boy are the Irish proud of their butter. It was a good experience for nothing other than the walk there along the river, which was exceptionally amazing.

Successful weekend and plenty of bucket list items checked off!

xoxo

round two.

I had an amazing break that was filled with all the bests that breaks have to offer including lots of time with my cousins, jaunts to the movies, seeing the roommate, and chill nights at home catching up on my favorite TV shows. Christmas was low key and casual, which was perfect. It was so nice that I had trouble physically going into the security line at the airport and leaving my parents.

Alas, I made it back to Ireland and fared much better than my first arrival just a few months ago. It was funny to see the kids in line jetting off for the first time frazzled by the lack of internet, effects that an overnight flight has on the body, and general anxiety from stepping outside their comfort zone. I smiled because I remember that feeling so well. It certainly wasn’t easy, but it certainly was worth it. I am one of the lucky ones that gets to do it twice in a row…. something by the end of peoples time abroad they wish they got to do, but never thought they would be able to.

My room looked the same and so did my friends. Being separate wasn’t so bad. It made the reunion that much sweeter. Jetlag is still lingering, but the adjustment was easier coming into a place I had already made a home. What was different was the people. The kids I had grown accustomed to for an entire semester no longer were in their usual places or at the bars when we arrived. Instead it is a whole new crowd of giddy school kids ready to enjoy the few short months they have. In a way its bothersome because we had a bond with those other kids… the first semesters as we call them. They embarked on the same journey as us, learning along the way and laughing at our mistakes. Now we know the ins and outs, which I gladly share with all we meet, but for some reason and unexpectedly it is a tad bit bothersome. I wouldn’t say I’m opposed to change, but for some reason I am not loving the change in this sense. In general the group last semester was more people who seemed to be like us–mostly from the Northeast and all went to similar colleges. These students are mostly from the Midwest and go to huge universities. I have no opposition to any of this and in fact have met so many amazing girls already, but it sure is different. Perhaps change does bother me…. who knows. I suppose I cannot put my feelings into words, but I did not expect to be so jarred by the changeover of people. However, if there is one thing I have learned its that moments of change and uncomfortableness prove to be the most rewarding in the end.

On the plus side my classes are far more interesting than last semester. The choices are much more intriguing and I am genuinely happy with my selections that miraculously came together to fit into all the time slots I needed. Though my schedule is more packed I managed to only have on class on Thursday and Friday so that I can travel more.  Travel is on the agenda this semester far more than the last. Its my last chance to make the rounds and I am trying to come from a place of yes even though it is tempting to skip the exhaustion and planning and stay in the place I have grown to love. But, breaking that comfort zone is my goal… so I said yes to our first trip and I am super excited! We head to Amsterdam, Brussels, then Paris at the end of the month and knock off all three in only 4 days.

And nothing says you’re back in Ireland like having to trek through the rain to get to class.

 

welcome back faithful readers.

xoxox

35 things you appreciate about america after living in europe.

(First of all, I apologize for not being able to click the links on the previous post..#abroadprobs. As long as I am across the pond, this will plague us. I encourage you to type in the titles to youtube because they are so great!)

35 Things You Appreciate about America after living in Europe.

List adapted from here.

1.It is nearly impossible to get Tylenol, toiletries, and snacks in the same place. Separate stores for all.

2. All sodas are lukewarm, never served with ice, and ha if you want any diet drink besides Diet Coke.

3. Ice cubes. nope… it took us two weeks to find an ice cube tray.

4. Iced Coffee. You want it… find your own ice cubes and do it. Not on any menu here.

5. Online Streaming. You want to watch things online? Psych!! I don’t know how people survive without it.

6. Driving a car. There are cars yes, but public transportation is very prevalent even in small towns and cities.

7. Fro-Yo. Literally Gelato is all that exists. Good luck finding anything real either.

8. Electric outlets. You must time it so everyone can use it since there are few in the room (inconvenient places) and good luck with adapters… a different country requires a different adapter… UGH.

9. Outlet Shopping. Either really cheap stores or boutiques. Nothing in between.

10. 24 Hour Drive Through. Everything closes early. No late night snacking to be had! (A secret blessing)

11. WIFI/3G. My life is a never ending chase of internet. You must ask for the password everywhere you go and even then you may not get it. Further, even in the comforts of your home everything is a cord—no hands free internet here.

12. Free bathrooms. You have to pay to get into public bathrooms and the best part? Exact change only.

13. Peanut Butter. It is oddly hard to find. I don’t love it so it doesn’t affect me.

14. Solo cups. When hosting a pre-game, the clean up is far easier when cups can be swiped into a trash bag. I spend more mornings cleaning glass cups than I would ever like to admit.

15. Personal space. Boys are just all up in your face in a bar. LIKE NO. Start with your name.

16. Law and Order: SVU marathons. My biggest problem used to be missing the initial kill of the episode…. now its that it doesn’t even exist.

17. No Smoking Zones. People smoke anywhere anytime. It is nasty. My lungs are suffering.

18. Sushi. There is one restaurant in Galway and we consider that lucky. All Asian cuisine or Chinese food is hard to come by.

19. Football. Monday Night Football…. college football. Totally oblivious. Hurling, Curling, and Soccer instead.

20. American candy brands. Twix is the only international brand. (secret blessing)

21. International phones. You could travel from MA to CA and use the same phone…. go from Ireland to another nearby country and boom your phone no longer works.

22. Swim gear. Speedos– something I can do without for the rest of my life.

23. Free refills. In America they make a point to fill your water or bring a drink before you are even done. Conserve your first glass because OH LORD you will never get a refill.

24. American holidays. Thanksgiving. 4th of July.

25. Ketchup. This plagues me a lot!!! They keep a secret stash for Americans and you bet I am the one to annoy them for it.

26. Household appliances. Dishwashers would be a lifesaver.

27. Split the check. You get one check which makes things utterly complicated. We have met some great people who have sat down with a calculator for us!

28. Pancakes. I rarely like them, but the one time I ordered them you could have thrown them against the wall and they would have stuck. Thick and sticky. LOL.

29. Normal heaters or air conditioners. Air conditioners don’t really exist, but my heater has a switch–essentially it is super complicated and I have visions of waking up to a fire.

30. Water fountains. You will go in circles finding one to fill up your water bottle (that you would have had to bring from America because they barely sell them anywhere).

31. Food delivery. WE DELIVER is in all caps for a reason–its rare.

32. Screens. No windows have screens?! It is really annoying to be worried constantly about bugs and spiders. I have PTSD from a spider moment earlier this year and I know the culprit was the un-screened window.

33. Store hours. Everything closes early. Like REALLY early. Sunday has a delayed start… stores open at 11, 12, or 1.

34. Bagels. “They have bagels and cream cheese here” “NO WAY”—–its a big deal. I haven’t had one since August. (secret blessing)

35. Money. 1 and 2 Euro are a coin. In addition there is a 50 cent, 10 cent, 5 cent, 2 cent, and 1 cent. It literally makes no sense and makes for a heavy wallet.

 

All of these make up the charm of living here. I love that there are things to adjust to… its things I can say I adjusted to and made apart of me while I lived away for a year!

xoxoxo